Album Review: Dawes, ‘All Your Favorite Bands’

Written by Chris Osifchin

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“I know that my favorite bands are a really deep part of who I am.”

Any music lover can relate to Taylor Goldsmith’s sentiment. Your favorite band is the one that instantly lifts you into a better mood, drives you down the highway at dawn – they just do it for you.

Descendents of California folk rock, Dawes has a particular flair for wistful California nostalgia, perfected by the likes of Neil Young and Crosby, Stills and Nash before them, in which Goldsmith croons a tune of regret and loss, but never makes it feel as though those are lost times. Rather, the past is simply what happened. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the title track, “Things Happen.” The matter of fact statement, “Things happen, that’s all they ever do,” describing the end of a relationship is a resolution tinged with a kind of existential optimism. There’s no reason to keep looking back, things happened, but as Goldsmith sings, “ain’t it funny how the past won’t ever let something lie?” Lovers in Dawes’ world have nothing left, but can’t quite let it go.

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The title track works as a proxy for the outlook Goldsmith took when recording All Your Favorite Bands. Nailing that nostalgic feeling without ever coming across as overly sentimental, the band lays out the feeling you get when you listen to your favorite bands. It’s a moment of acceptance on an album that’s lyrically stuck at a crossroads between resignation and resistance. When Goldsmith sings, “I hope the world sees the same person that you’ve always been to me/and may all your favorite bands stay together,” it’s a moment that is chillingly familiar to anyone who’s had to try to move on from someone they love. Goldsmith even says it himself, “I would love for someone wishing me well to put it in the terms of ‘may all your favorite bands stay together.’ That would be a real friend. That person would know what truly matters.” In a way, Goldsmith is singing and speaking about his own band. They’ve hit the emotional notes in a way that few bands are capable of doing in the studio, or live.

The live show is possibly at its apex in 2015, there’s a “season” for music festivals, which have become giant, sprawling weekends, and bands are touring more than ever. Certain albums manage to capture the sounds of a particular moment in time, those fleeting memories gone by. All Your Favorite Bands was recorded live, and it sounds it. Goldsmith’s echoing vocals sound like they were lifted straight from the stage.

Near the end of the rollicking, almost ten minute “Now That It’s Too Late, Maria,” Goldsmith exhales a slight chuckle after an exuberant, Grateful Dead-ish lick. You can just imagine him hitting the notes on that stage, grinning into the night.

Rating: 8/10

All Your Favorite Bands by Dawes is available on iTunes.

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